The Leshan Giant Buddha was built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It is carved out of a cliff face that lies at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers in the southern part of Sichuan province in China, near the city of Leshan.
Construction was started in AD 713 (1300 years ago), led by a Chinese monk named Haitong. He hoped that the Buddha would calm the turbulent waters that plagued the shipping vessels travelling down the river. When funding for the project was threatened, he is said to have gouged out his own eyes to show his piety and sincerity. Construction was completed by his disciples 90 years later.
At 71 metres (233 feet) tall, the statue depicts a seated Maitreya Buddha with his hands resting on his knees. His shoulders are twenty-eight metres wide and his smallest toenail is large enough to easily accommodate a seated person. There is a local saying: “The mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain”. This is partially because the mountain range in which the Leshan Giant Buddha is located is thought to be shaped like a slumbering Buddha when seen from the river, with the Leshan Giant Buddha as its heart.
Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leshan_Giant_Buddha